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PM Modi Explained Why Mistrust of Some Colours Governance, Creates Elite Control: Abhijit Banerjee

Banerjee won the Economics Nobel along with two others for experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.


Updated:October 22, 2019, 1:16 PM IST
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PM Modi Explained Why Mistrust of Some Colours Governance, Creates Elite Control: Abhijit Banerjee
PM Modi with Abhijeet Banerjee.

Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who met Narendra Modi on Tuesday, said the Prime Minister discussed his government's efforts to reform bureaucracy by making it more responsive to the views of the people on the ground.

“The Prime Minister was kind enough to give me quite a lot of time and to talk about his way of thinking about India, which was quite unique because one hears a lot about policies but one rarely hears about the thinking behind it…

“He talked about the way he sees governance in particular, and why in some sense the mistrust of some people on the ground colours our governance… and therefore creates structures of elite control over governance process… not a responsive government. In the that process, he very nicely explained how he is trying to reform the bureaucracy in India to make it more responsive… to understand the ways in which people’s views need to be taken into account… to expose them (bureaucrats) more to the reality on the ground.

“I think it’s important for India to have a bureaucracy that lives on the ground and gets its stimulus from how life is on the ground and without that we get an unresponsive government. Thank you, PM. That was quite a unique experience for me,” he said.

Modi had said he had a “healthy and extensive interaction” with Banerjee on various subjects.

Banerjee won the Economics Nobel along with Esther Duflo, a French-American economist and fellow US professor Michael Kremer for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty. Duflo is Banerjee's second wife.

He was, however, criticised back home by BJP leaders such as Piyush Goyal and BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha for his critique of the government.

Goyal, while congratulating Banerjee, had called him a “Left-leaning professor” and said people of the country had rejected his ideas on NYAY, the minimum income guarantee programme proposed by the Congress in its election manifesto.

The scheme promised to give Rs 72,000 annually to each of the 20 per cent families in poorest of the poor category. The Congress, however, lost the election.

Sinha, too, stoked a controversy as he remarked that people whose second wives are foreigners are mostly getting the Nobel Prize. "Those people whose second wives are foreigners are mostly getting the Nobel prize. I don't know whether it is a degree for getting the Nobel," Sinha said.

In an interview to CNN-News18, Banerjee had praised Modi as being a “complete package” but said people had voted for him and not every decision he took.

“I think any government does 100 things and people have to vote on all of them. They have mostly voted for Modi, who I think is genuinely popular and they decided no other opposition leader is worth voting for. I am totally willing to give him that. I don’t think that means every single decision they have taken was voted for.... People didn’t have a choice between ‘I’m going to vote for Modi for this scheme and not for that’. Given that choice, they would have made different choices on different issues. They had one choice — Modi or not,” he said.

On criticism of Nyunatam Aay Yojana on which he advised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Banerjee admitted that the programme was not “particularly well-designed”.

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